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Overvalued / Undervalued – Running Backs

By: — August 8, 2012 @ 10:47 am

The running back position in fantasy football has lost a bit of its luster the last few years as the emphasis has shifted to elite quarterbacks and wide receivers in the NFL. However the position is still a requirement in our fantasy football leagues and running backs play an important role in your team’s success. This year there are some notable names slipping to the later rounds and simply being counted on to provide quality numbers despite age, injury and declining skills while others are looking to rebound into stud RB1 territory. Here is a look at a few such players – one’s to target and others to seriously think twice about.


Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
Average Draft Position: 1.07

Johnson appears to have benefited from reputation alone. Are people forgetting last season? It was a brutal year – not interrupted by injuries but slowed by Johnson’s apparent apathy and the fact that he is a smallish back running behind a smallish offensive line. So what has changed? Unfortunately not much expect for a slightly better attitude heading into camp. A look at the trends raise huge red flags – in the last three years he has gone from 358 to 316 to 262 carries; from 5.6 to 4.3 to 4.0 yards per carry; and from 14 to 11 to 4 rushing touchdowns. Yup, Johnson is trending exactly the wrong way and is still the fifth back being drafted in mocks this season. The addition of rookie Kendall Wright and the presence of Javon Ringer will certainly limit Johnson’s touches. He was a bust last year and his situation hasn’t improved – late second/early third round is OK for Johnson. Middle of the first round is not.

Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
Average Draft Position: 1.11

There is no denying the talent of Mr. Forte but there are is no shortage of red flags ahead. The screen-happy Mike Martz is gone as offensive coordinator and Forte is coming off an sprained MCL suffered in Week 13 last season. Finally, there is the Bears’ acquisition of Michael Bush who figures to snake goaline opportunities from Forte. Matt is a nice player for sure but to count on him as your first running back pick may be a little overly optimistic. Late second round, early third is OK for Forte but first is just too rich.

Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
Average Draft Position: 2.07

Don’t be fooled by the videos of AP working out, looking chiseled and shrugging off an injury that should take 12 months to get over. It was only December that AP had reconstructive surgery on three, count ‘em three ligaments in his knee. I guess that Peterson could be the exception to the rule but I am expecting at least mid-season before he is back to full strength. Add in the fact that he is playing on a subpar team and Peterson looks like the biggest risk on the board. Let’s face it – Christian Ponder scares absolutely nobody and Percy Harvin is as big a question mark as Peterson. Let someone else gamble on AP this year in the second round – if he is there late in the third/early in the fourth round then take the gamble.


Shonn Greene – New York Jets
Average Draft Position: 5.06

I know, I know – Greene has been underwhelming but a look at the Jets backfield situation reveals that Greene is a virtual lock for 250-300 touches this season. He finished 17th among fantasy backs last season with LaDainian Tomlinson snaking a portion of his opportunities. This season he is the 23rd RB off the board and he has just Joe McKnight to compete with…? He is durable and is evolving into a decent pass catching back and will be the feature back in a run heavy offense – what’s not to like? He has certainly been underwhelming in the past but with the opportunities he is certain to get, he is a rock solid RB2 and may be worthy of at least a fourth round pick.

Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos
Average Draft Position: 5.11

With all of the noise that Peyton Manning has made in Denver, it is Willis McGahee that has slipped between the fantasy draft cracks. Absolutely nobody is talking about him. Last season he had 1199 yards, 4.8 yards per carry and but only four rushing TDs – something that is bound to change now that the touchdown snake Tim Tebow has left town. Knowshon Moreno isn’t going to threaten his touches; Lance Ball isn’t either and the only other competition for McGahee is Ronnie Hillman – a smallish back that won’t be on the field in the red zone. The Broncos are a far superior offensive team to the one that took the field in 2011 and McGahee, arguably their best and most consistent contributor from last season, figures to benefit from the holes that are bound to be open with the presence of Mr. Manning. McGahee as a RB2 in the fifth is a steal – 1200 yards and 10 scores is value as the 25th RB off the board!

James Starks – Green Bay Packers
Average Draft Position: 6.09

It is not often that you can bank on getting the unquestioned backfield leader of a powerful offense in the sixth round but that is exactly what you get in James Starks. Sure, he hasn’t scored since the first game of the 2011 season and sure he only had 162 touches last year. But entering 2012, Ryan Grant is gone and his competition for carries is Brandon Saine – Brandon who? My guess is that Starks hits 1000 combined yards this season with 6-8 scores. As mentioned, he has no competition and remember – Aaron Rodgers is just one open field hit away from another serious concussion. Green Bay has to run more this season and Starks has to be the beneficiary.

Overvalued / Undervalued – Wide Receivers

By: — August 4, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

The presence of a good stable of wide receivers for your fantasy squad is often overlooked on draft day. Most get caught up in the quarterback and running back bonanzas that inevitably take place. In PPR leagues especially, WRs value a can vary and while some owners like to jump on big names early, they may leave themselves vulnerable at other positions on their roster. There is definite value in the top tier of wide receivers but there are also some elite names that are being chosen way too early. On the flip side there are some quality names that could be available in the middle rounds – ones that could start and produce for your championship winning squad. Let’s take a look…


Greg Jennings – Green Bay Packers
Average Draft Position: 2.11

When choosing a wide receiver in the second round, he had better be an unquestioned #1 on his team. That’s where the problem lies with Mr. Jennings. There is a guy named Jordy Nelson on the Packers – a player that not only out gained Jennings by 300 yards in 2011 but also scored six more touchdowns. There is no doubt that Jennings is an elite talent on an absolutely insane offense but Nelson and Jermichael Finley turn him into a risk that I am unwilling to take in round second round. I love Greg Jennings and would love to have him on my team but I am only willing to spend a third round/early fourth round pick on him which means Jennings will not be on any of my fantasy teams this season.

Wes Welker – New England Patriots
Average Draft Position: 3.06

Welker, like Jennings is certainly an elite talent in the league but at present he is the fifth WR off the board on average. A look at his numbers late in the season throws up a huge red flag for me. During his torrid first eight games last season Welker averaged over eight catches per game, 120 yards and 0.75 touchdowns. The rest of the way he averaged just 6.8 catches, 71 yards and 0.36 touchdowns while garnering nearly the same amount of targets. He failed to record 60 yards receiving in seven of his last eleven games proving the feast or famine rule with Welker. Brandon Lloyd has been added to take some of Welker’s targets and the tight ends still loom and may affect his production. Don’t get me wrong – I love Welker but not at this price as ahead of Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Roddy White and Julio Jones.

Kenny Britt – Tennessee Titans
Average Draft Position: 7.07

I am not touching Britt this season. More arrests will lead to more suspensions for sure. There is also his knee issues that haven’t seemed to right themselves quite yet – 2 surgeries on the same knee has me wondering if he will be close to 100% this year. Britt in the 7th round, as a WR2 could offer tremendous value but I can’t help but think that the downside far outweighs the upside. My guess is that Britt will spend more time on the sidelines than the field this season – not exactly a recipe for fantasy success!


Brandon Lloyd – New England Patriots
Average Draft Position: 5.04

Remember when Lloyd was the #1 fantasy receiver with Kyle Orton throwing him the ball? That was only a couple of seasons ago after which he endured some terrible quarterback play (A.J. Feeley and Kellen Clemens included). He is now in the fruitful gardens of Foxboro and has already developed a rapport with Tom Brady – the same Tom Brady that had 5200 yards passing last year. He has a chance to do what Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco failed to do – become that legitimate deep threat that the Pats have been missing since the hay-day of Mr. Moss. With Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez creating distractions, Lloyd promises to see more open field than he ever has in his pro career. Something else to remember – Josh McDaniel is the offensive coordinator in New England and will be employing a similar system that made Lloyd a stud only a couple of seasons ago. Lloyd finished 25th in fantasy rankings last year and is being taken on average as the 21st WR in mock drafts. My mouth is watering at the prospect of 1100 yards and double-digit scores in the fifth round.

Eric Decker – Denver Broncos
Average Draft Position: 6.05

Decker has the potential to become this year’s Victor Cruz. He has been working with Peyton Manning this off-season and we already know that his route running and ability to hold onto the ball are right up the alley for Mr. Manning. Decker has shown good fantasy chops in the past – only last year he was the #7 fantasy wideout after five weeks, then Tebow took over and the Broncos threw the ball five times per game. Manning himself has already praised the athleticism and hands of Decker and we all know that when you have Peyton’s attention, good things happen. Expect Decker to become Manning’s more talented Austin Collie or Brandon Stokley with more upside. 80-90 catches, 1000 yards and 8-10 touchdowns are likely but the ceiling could be higher.

Robert Meachem – San Diego Chargers
Average Draft Position: 7.07

Meachem comes into the season as the No.1 receiver for Philip Rivers and is being drafted on average in the seventh round – incredible! He has the size, the durability and most of all the chance to break out in a huge way this year. Meachem has Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Brown, not to mention Antonio Gates to compete for catches with – my guess is that Meachem outperforms them all. Look for 120+ targets this year instead of his customary 50. Also expect 1100-1300 yards along with 8-10 touchdowns for San Diego. The #1 receiver in San Diego typically means big numbers which means that Meachem should be in for a big season – not bad in the seventh round.

Overvalued / Undervalued – Quarterbacks

By: — July 26, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

Quarterback has become the make or break position in fantasy football over the past couple years. Remember when running backs dominated the first two rounds of most drafts? It wasn’t that long ago. Now we see as many as three QBs going in the first round – but is it justified? In some cases, yes, but there are gems going in the later rounds that can help you win your fantasy championship in December.


Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Average Draft Position: 2.10

Cam Newton was an absolute fantasy beast last season – 4000 passing yards, 21 passing TDs and 14, count ‘em 14 rushing scores. The hype is warranted but his selection in the second round may not be. You don’t have to look back too far to conjure up examples of how multi-tooled quarterbacks have fared the year after a breakout season… think Michael Vick and Vince Young. Expect the rushing TDs to decrease – they almost have to with battering ram Mike Tolbert in the fold, snaking those red zone opportunities. That leaves the onus on Newton’s ability to throw the ball in order to appease his high ADP. He is good, not great and his weapons outside of Steve Smith are far from elite. Add in the fact that defenses will have had a full off-season to think about Newton’s attributes and he becomes the riskiest of the top 5 quarterbacks on the board.

Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos
Average Draft Position: 5.12

Manning has become one of the most polarizing players in the world of fantasy this off-season and rightfully so. The future Hall of Famer obviously has the skills, the smarts and the desire to prove his doubters wrong but a fifth round selection is too early. We know his amazing track record of consistency and the fact that he has reportedly looked OK in organized activities, but the negatives far outweigh the positives. There are the four neck surgeries, a new team, a new system and the fact that his weapons are Eric Decker and Demaryuis Thomas instead of Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and even Marvin Harrison. Manning is the classic risk/reward pick in the fifth round – better to look at Eli, Philip Rivers and even Matt Ryan who are being drafted a round or two after Peyton.

Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins
Average Draft Position: 8.08

There is no doubting the talent of Griffin and the fact that he will one day be a solid pro. Where the problem lies is in people’s expectations. At present he is being drafted in the eighth round ahead of such names as Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub to name a few. Cam Newton set the bar very high last year but people have to realize that Newton’s monumental season was the exception, not the rule. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers are all quarterbacks that struggled or were not ready to play in their first season as pros. Griffin has Pierre Garcon, an aging Santana Moss and a troubled Fred Davis in his arsenal. He also has the daunting task of playing the Giants, the Eagles and the Cowboys two times each this year. I have no problem with those who draft Griffin III as a QB2 with upside but to draft him as your starter is an enormous risk – one that I would stay away from.


Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben is poised to have his best fantasy season to date.

Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
Average Draft Position: 8.11

Where is the love for Mr. Roethlisberger? People tend to forget that he has passed for 4000 yards and at least 20 touchdowns in two of the last three seasons – the other season he missed the first four games. There are a few of factors that we need to look at here. First, the Steelers significantly upgraded a glaring weakness on their team in the draft – they picked up two stud offensive linemen that instantly plug a gaping hole. Second, Ben has weapons – Mike Wallace (if and when he signs), Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders strike the fear of God in opposing defensive coordinators. Third, is the injury to Rashard Mendenhall who figures to miss a good chunk of the season – do you trust Isaac Redman? And finally there is new offensive coordinator Todd Haley who, despite a bit of controversy has a chance to re-ignite this offense. Ben is a sure-fire every week fantasy starter and he is the 13th QB off the board. My bet is that he finishes this season in the top 10 and rewarding those who waited until the eighth round to select him.

Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears
Average Draft Position: 9.02

Cutler’s ADP is right behind that of Big Ben’s – behind Robert Griffin III? Amazing! The biggest story for Cutler in 2012 is the Bears’ acquisition of Brandon Marshall. Marshall caught 100 balls in 2008 when Cutler finished top five among fantasy quarterbacks. The Bears also drafted Alshon Jeffrey in the second round this year – needless to say the receiver position has been significantly upgraded. Mike Martz is out as offensive coordinator and Mike Tice is in. This move will allow the Bears to play to Cutler’s strengths – more five step drops instead of seven step drops. Add in the fact that the Bears possess one of the best pass catching running backs in the league (Matt Forte) and that potential shootouts with Green Bay and Detroit loom and one has to look at Cutler as a low-end fantasy starter this year – not the high-end QB2 that he is being drafted as.

Carson Palmer – Oakland Raiders
Average Draft Position: 11.02

Palmer is currently the 16th quarterback being taken in most drafts. Consider that he came off the couch last season more than half way through the year, learned a completely new playbook on the fly and still registered top ten fantasy numbers down the stretch (293 yards per game). Pretty impressive. In 2012 he will have a full training camp under his belt and he will have a rapport with a young and extremely talented group of receivers. His own defense figures to be poor again and he has the benefit of playing against some underwhelming AFC West defenses as well. It all adds up to a better than average year for Mr. Palmer who is certainly worth QB2 consideration with serious upside in the 11th round of your fantasy draft.

Overvalued / Undervalued – Tight Ends

By: — July 20, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

With the NFL season just around the corner, it is time to start thinking about players to target for your winning fantasy team. Tight Ends are arguably the most intriguing position – a Rob Gronkowski or a Jimmy Graham can win your fantasy league while selecting an oft-absent Antonio Gates may leave you with an unenviable seeding heading into the fantasy playoffs come December. Here is a look at some players that appear to be going too early in drafts and those who provide serious value in later rounds.


Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints
Average Draft Position: 2.05

You are right, Robert Meachem is gone so Graham should see more balls thrown his way in 2012. He did have 99 catches, 1310 yards and 11 touchdowns last season but step back a minute and take a look at the situation in New Orleans – a complete and utter mess! Drew Brees signed a historic contact and is finally happy but the perennial banged up running back situation will enter 2012 healthy for the time being. Graham is a stud for sure – he is my top tight end – he’s just not worthy of being picked ahead of Larry Fitzgerald… too many question marks for a second rounder. Waiting three rounds for Antonio Gates (5.05), or four rounds for Vernon Davis (6.02), Jermichael Finley (6.04), or Aaron Hernandez (6.06) would be your best move.

Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
Average Draft Position: 2.08

I know, I know! Gronkowski was an absolute monster last year but being chosen in the first or second round may be over-optimistic. True he is an elite pass catcher who redefined the role of Tight End with 90 catches, 1327 yards and 17 touchdowns, but 19th overall? He is being drafted ahead of guys like Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Andre Johnson and A.J. Green to name a few. And, don’t forget Tom Brady has a new weapon named Brandon Lloyd in the mix this year. If you subscribe to the idea that a Tight End can win you a championship then you’ll need to commit an mid-to-late second round pick on Gronk but something tells me that the quarterback, an elite running back, or WR1 that you miss out on would be more beneficial in guiding you to the promise land.

Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
Average Draft Position: 6.11

Witten had his worst season statistically last year with 79 catches, 942 yards and only five scores; in the final eight games he only scored once and fell below 50 yards in five matchups while averaging just 5.8 targets per game. A healthy Miles Austin and a better running game could eat into Witten’s production even more this year. He is being drafted a full round ahead of a healthy Fred Davis who is likely a better option. In the sixth round, Witten is a reach.


Fred Davis – Washington Redskins
Average Draft Position: 8.01

Only a positive drug test prevented Davis from having a great season last year. With a rookie QB and lack of bonafide weapons in DC, there is reason to believe he could be in for another good campaign. He had 59 catches, 796 yards and three scores last year and is projected by many to come close to 1000 yards this season which would rank him in the second tier of NFL TEs. As it sits now, Davis is the eighth or ninth TE off the board when his projections put him fifth. He may not seem like an eighth round pick but when the inevitable run on TEs leaves you scrambling, you could do a whole lot worse than Davis.

Jermaine Gresham – Cincinnati Bengals
Average Draft Position: 10.12

Gresham is an interesting prospect and clearly Andy Dalton’s second option in what should be a better season for the second year pivot. Some are projecting Gresham to be a top 10 Tight End and for good reason. With Jerome Simpson residing in Minnesota, the Bengals options opposite A.J. Green are unproven and lack experience. Gresham is being drafted late in the 10th round, but reaching for him in the eighth or ninth certainly isn’t out of the question after you have your other position players locked up. Gresham is arguably the best Tight End sleeper on the board.

Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons
Average Draft Position: 10.02

There is not much doubt that Gonzo’s skills are waning but at present he is the 11th Tight End being taken in most drafts. With Atlanta’s apparent commitment to throwing the ball this season, his presence should equate to more opportunities. He had 80 catches, 875 yards and seven touchdowns last year – not far from the numbers that made him a perennial Pro-Bowler in the past. To pick up a starter in the 10th round will certainly be a coup for you. He’s 36, finished in the top five among fantasy Tight Ends last year and he has recorded 80 or more catches in four of the last five seasons.

Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers
Average Draft Position: 14.01

The Panthers brought in Rob Chudzinski (San Diego) in 2011 to run the offense and to say that he is Tight End friendly is an understatement. Add in the fact that Carolina passed up an opportunity to significantly upgrade their receiving corps in the off-season and you have to think Cam Newton will rely on his Tight End even more this year. Also, Jeremy Shockey has been jettisoned so it will be Gary Barnidge, yes Gary Barnidge that will be Newton’s second Tight End option. Olsen has caught at least 5 TDs in each of the last four seasons and should see increased targets in 2012. You can snatch him up with one of your last picks in the draft and he could realistically be starting for you every week this season.

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